"Possibility to recall judges". PiS drafts new law on common courts

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Poland's ruling Law and Justice party drafted an amendment that foresees disciplining judgesTVN24 News in English
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Law and Justice parliamentary club on Thursday submitted in the Sejm a draft bill amending the law on common courts, as well as the Supreme Court - informed United Poland's MP Jan Kanthak. He added that the provisions include "possiblity of recalling judges who would assume the right to question the National Council of the Judiciary".

"This is a response to actions taken by a group of judges, who like to call themselves a special caste. It appears that it's not only a name, but also a sense of being a special caste, that we're dealing with here," Kanthak said.

The United Poland's MP added that "the project includes provisions regarding qualified disciplinary tort, resulting directly from care for legal order, care for rule of law in the Polish state and for upholding of the constitution".

"Provisions regarding torts assume a possiblity of recalling judges who would assume the right to question the National Council of the Judiciary, the prerogatives of the president, or questioning other judges," he explained.

"Serious concerns"

"The very fact of the project being submitted resulted from very serious concerns with actions taken by some judges. A judge should evaluate verdict by other judge only when an appeal or other motion against the verdict is filed, but has no authority to assess if a given judge is allowed to pass rulings," said the deputy justice minister Sebastian Kaleta.

"The ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal clearly indicates that being appointed by the president ends the case. That's because it's the president's prerogative," he added.

"At the same time, unfortunately, some judges follow a logic very dangerous for Poland's legal stability, according to which any judge can question the right to serve of any other judge. Oddly enough, they tend to focus only on the democratically elected National Council of the Judiciary," the deputy justice minister said.

Not fully independent

Poland's Supreme Court ruled December 5 that a judicial oversight panel introduced by the nationalist government to appoint judges was not sufficiently independent.

The decision could encourage legal challenges to rulings made by judges nominated by the panel, the National Council of the Judiciary (KRS), potentially causing delays or even chaos in the judicial system, legal experts said.

It was the latest complication for judicial reforms introduced by the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party government that have been condemned by Poland's European Union partners as politicising the courts.

"Up to Supreme Court"

The EU's top court said last month it was up to Poland's Supreme Court to decide on the independence of the KRS and another body set up under the reforms for disciplining judges.

The Supreme Court stated that the current KRS "is not an impartial body independent of the legislative and executive authorities".

Most of the people serving on the KRS were chosen by the PiS-dominated parliament.

Rulings of the Supreme Court are binding only in a specific case, but legal experts said the decision meant cases ruled by judges appointed by the KRS may be questioned by parties on the basis that the judges had been unlawfully installed.

"Not good situation"

"This fact may be used as a tool to question various perfectly correct and just rulings, citing procedural matters. This is not a good situation", said Michał Laskowski, the spokesman for the Supreme Court.

The PiS has rejected Brussels' criticisms of its court reforms, saying its goal is to make the system more efficient and fair.

The Supreme Court is led by a judge, Małgorzata Gersdorf, who was appointed before the PiS came to power. The government has backed off attempts to force her into early retirement under pressure from the EU.

Poland's other top court, the Constitutional Tribunal, rules on the validity of laws. It is headed by a judge whom PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczyński refers to as "a close friend".

Autor: gf / Źródło: TVN24 News in English, PAP